Founded in 1348, by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia. Karlštejn Castle is a large Gothic castle and one of the most frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic. The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia as well as the Bohemian/Czech crown jewels, holy relics, and other royal treasures. It is located about 30 km southwest of Prague above a town of the same name.
It is considered one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic. There is a beautiful national forest surrounding the castle which offers numerous hiking trails. There is also a 70-minute tour option that visits additional rooms, including the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
The first time Charles IV resided in the castle is documented in 1355 when he came to oversee the building construction as well as the decoration of the interior rooms, especially the castle chapels. The construction of the castle was finished in 1365 when the Chapel of the Holy Cross was consecrated.
The castle was reconstructed in late Gothic style after 1480 and in Renaissance style in the last part of the 16th century. The present appearance of the castle comes from the latest reconstruction, which was done in the puristic neo-Gothic style by architect Josef Mocker at the late 1800's.
A most remarkable feature is the original step-like order of buildings. From the Well tower and Burgrave's palace located as the lowest level, one can walk up to the regal five-floored Imperial palace and further up towards the Marian tower. Finally at the top of the headland stands, the monumental and fortified Great tower stands tall.
A very significant attraction is the original decoration of wall paintings dating back to the 14th century, a collection of 129 panel paintings by Master Theodoric in the Chapel of the Holy Cross (the largest if its kind), the largest portrait gallery of Czech rulers in the country, a stunning replica of the crown of the Holy Roman Emperors, and the St. Wenceslas crown.